“Stay Close To Your People, They Are The Biggest Asset You Have; Nurture Them, Embrace Them, Encourage Them And Promote Them Whenever You Have The Opportunity To Do So.”
Matti Kon, CEO of InfoTech, was born in Austria and moved to Israel with his family as a youth. He served in the Airborne Division of the Israel Defense Forces for five years and was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.
Following his military service and the start of his technology career in Israel, Mr. Kon moved to the United States in 1986, settling in New York, becoming a U.S. citizen and earning his degree in Economics and Management Information Systems. In 1988 Mr. Kon joined the internal audit group at AIG on Wall Street. A true entrepreneur at heart, Mr. Kon left his career on Wall Street after four years to found a series of businesses, of which InfoTech is at the forefront. Mr. Kon has worked tirelessly to grow InfoTech over the years, and was especially dedicated to the opening of InfoTech offices in places such as Montana and North Dakota, offering employment opportunities to IT professionals in their hometowns, allowing them to stay with their families and in the places they grew up in and being able to contribute to the local community without the need to relocate to large metropolitan areas in order to fulfill their technology career. This venture supports his core philosophy o f the importance of keeping high level technology jobs in the United States instead of off-shoring them to other countries.
Today, under Mr. Kon’s leadership, InfoTech, which is headquartered in midtown Manhattan, with satellite offices throughout the U.S., is an Industry leader providing system products and IT services to hundreds of major companies, corporations and government agencies in the United States. Some of InfoTech’s key clients include the U.S. DoD (Department of Defense), U.S. Navy, Raytheon Missile Systems, and many others. In the private sector, key clients include major Wall Street firms such as Wells Fargo, UBS, Raymond James, ISI, Morgan Stanley, JWT and many others. InfoTech’s client base reaches beyond the U.S. with clients in countries such as England, Israel, Australia, and other European countries.
Mr. Kon and InfoTech have been recognized on several occasions by the Senate’s Defense Appropriation committee as a key player within the defense industry and hence funded for key defense contracts. InfoTech has also been recognized as one of the 10 best companies to work for, and one of the top five places to intern, in places such as North Dakota and other rural locations in the U.S. where InfoTech offers young professionals in the IT industry career opportunities in their hometowns.
Where did the idea for InfoTech come from?
The idea of establishing InfoTech was born in my mind during the time I worked on Wall Street as a programmer at AIG in the late 80’s. At this time RAD (Rapid Application Development) database tools were becoming popular in software development communities and offered a replacement the traditional software development languages. At the time, I was programming a lot in COBOL and I discovered that I could increase my productivity and output many times over when switching from COBOL programming to RAD tools. I started thinking maybe I could establish a software company that would develop software programs better, faster and cheaper and that there was a huge marketplace for this.
What does your typical day look like?
One thing that you quickly learn when running your own company, especially during your initial growth period, is that there is no “typical day”. Even today, after my company has been established for decades, on a daily basis I need to deal with new business opportunities, investment relationships, client development and retention, HR Issues, operational and marketing issues and so on. Of course, I have a highly respected and qualified team of professionals working on these issues, but when issues get escalated up to me from the various departments, they are all important, they all need attention… NOW. So I start my day early with a clear list of items that will need to be addressed, and a vision of what my day will look like. Many times, by mid-day you find that unforeseen events have taken precedence over the original plan. Each week, to stay on track the best I can, to make sure the company is being proactive instead of reactive and to maintain our entrepreneurial edge, I have certain fixed weekly group meetings, including: Management Meetings, Operations Meetings, Marketing & Business Development meetings and a few others. I try as hard as possible to stick to those meetings, and during them the team comes up with new ideas, new thoughts, new offerings, and new updates and solutions for our clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I brought together a great team of qualified project managers, technology experts, developers, BA’s, marketers and we all bring ideas to life through brainstorming and “think tank” meetings followed by well executed strict project plans. The first phase, brainstorming, is when we establish the evaluation team; review all ideas, implications, business and market opportunity, technical validity and even how “sexy” or “attractive” the idea might be. If we decide at the end of the evaluation that the idea has merit, we assign a team with a project manager to develop the idea following a strict project management methodology.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I truly listen to my employees. It is great that they bring forward new thoughts and ideas and challenge the status quo. I like that. There is a great quote by Margaret Heffernan, “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I actually do not remember having a “worst job”. I have always learned something from any job I have ever had.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I would start again, knowing what I knew when I started, I would probably do the same. If I would start again, knowing what I know now, well, that’s a different discussion.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Stay close to your people, they are the biggest asset you have; nurture them, embrace them, encourage them and promote them whenever you have the opportunity to do so.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Loyalty and Retention. Whether it is to employees, clients, business partners or friends, staying loyal and retaining relationships is key for building longevity and stability in business. InfoTech has employees who have been with the company for as long as 17 years. They know the business inside and out. We have clients who have been with us for very long period of time. These kind of professional ties promote mutual trust and a feeling of partnership and ownership which is essential to our success.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As they say, we learn to ride the horse by falling from it. I believe we all make daily mistakes, and a mistake does not become an error until you decide to repeat it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One of the best of businesses to get into these days is Social Media. Over the next 10 years thousands of new Social Media companies in different fields, and different interest groups will open and many will strive and build the next generation of technology millionaires.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I would have loved being a history professor.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I am an avid user of Dragon Voice Recognition software. It is such a time saver. It lets me dictate documents, search the web, answer emails just by using my voice. I am not the greatest typist, so this way I can get my ideas out quickly. I have also recently been using Amazon web services. Great business. Great business model.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Cyber War, by Richard A. Clarke. This book is super relevant to our time.
Massive security breaches and hacks like the recent attack to Sony is just the latest in a series of cyber-crimes hitting corporations nationally and internationally. Data breaches are damaging and expensive. Optimal security and strong backups can help reduce vulnerabilities and while not all data breaches can be prevented, damage can be greatly reduced.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Marcus Aurelius, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, General Ivan Vasilyevich Panfilov and Joseph Rudyard Kipling.
InfoTech on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/infotechfb
InfoTech on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/infotechfb.com
InfoTech on Twitter: @infotechfb